Thursday, November 17, 2016

Getting Ready for Christmas

Today was my early work today. Not a whole lot going on. I rounded up carts when I arrived, but I was mainly inside. I gathered baskets, emptied the trash cans for the wet wipe containers as you enter the store, and helped a manager with heavy boxes filled with register tape and an old woman with her groceries. Wiped down a new display case in the deli. Spent the last half-hour doing returns. There really wasn't a whole lot to do. We just weren't that busy, and there were two other baggers there when I finished.

Headed straight home after work. I took the long way down Nicholson Road. There was some late lunch traffic in Audubon. Otherwise, the streets weren't much busier than the Acme. It was too nice a day for people to be in a hurry! The sun was out, the sky was blue, and it was unusually warm for mid-November, probably in the upper 60's. 

When I got home, I had lunch while watching Snowed In at the House of Mouse. This "feature length" animated movie tells what happens when pretty much every Disney character in existence in the early 2000's gets stranded at Mickey's club on Christmas Eve. Most everyone takes it pretty well...except for Donald, who's just being grouchy. Mickey plays a series of shorts and sketches to put him in a better frame of mind. 

I normally love House of Mouse, but the only reason to see this is for the utterly hilarious spoof of "The Nutcracker." Mickey is the Nutcracker, Minnie is Marie, Professor Ludvig Von Drake is Herr Drosselmeyer, Donald is the Mouse King (!), and Goofy is the Snow Fairy. John Cleese attempts to narrate. It's pretty wild stuff, feeling more like a Looney Tunes short at times than Disney. Unless you're interested in that or want a copy of Mickey's Christmas Carol (which makes up most of the second half of this "movie"), this is fun but unnecessary for all but major Disney fans. 

Spent the next few hours working on my story. Luke shrinks himself and Rey down to help Han, the Sugar Plum Cavalier, with the mouse army. Rey's shocked when she finds herself small enough to ride her kitten Bee Bee...and even more so when her Nutcracker is leading the charge!

Han finally confronts Kylo Ren, the Mouse Army's greatest warrior. He doesn't look like a mouse to Rey! He looks like a skinny human in a mouse mask. Han calls him his son and tries to shoot magic at him, but Ren deflects it into the older fairy. Han's dazed long enough for the mice to capture him and bind his wings with iron chains. Luke and Rey are surrounded by mice. Many of the toys are taken away as well. 

The Nutcracker jumps in, hoping to stop them. He and Ren duel, but Ren gets the better of him. He's about to run him through when Rey distracts him by throwing her slipper at his wrist. Luke finally knocks him into a mouse hole with his green candy crystal staff. 

Broke around quarter after 5 for dinner and chores. I wanted to get my Christmas lists organized. No, it's not what I want for Christmas. It's what I'm giving. More specifically, it's my Christmas card, baking, and shopping lists. I usually do them about a week before Thanksgiving, so I know who's getting what and what to make whom and who gets presents in the mail and who gets them given out on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

Stuck with Disney as I worked, switching to the 1961 Babes In Toyland. This time, Mary Contrary (Annette Funicello) and Tom the Piper's Son (Tommy Sands) are the lovers, the comics are Barnaby's henchmen, and Barnaby (Ray Bolger) is after Mary's inheritance. The "babes" are Mary's siblings, who go into the Forest of No Return to find Mary's sheep, so she won't have to marry Barnaby. They all end up in Toyland, where the Toymaker (Ed Wynn) and his assistant Grumio (Tommy Kirk) are having trouble meeting the big Christmas toy deadline. Tom and Mary nominate themselves and the kids to help. But Barnaby and his men aren't far behind them...

I know this one has it's detractors, but it's my favorite version of this story. The sets are cute and colorful, the costumes are adorable, and Bolger in particular is a delight playing against type as the mustache-and-cape villain. 

Took a quick shower before going online in the living room. Watched The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen as I got settled. The title character (John Neville) is an old man who breaks into a play in an English seaside town about the life of Germany's most famous liar. Trouble is, this little town is ruled by reason and practicality and nothing but, says the town mayor (Johnathan Pryce). Balderdash, says Munchhausen. Everyone needs a little fantasy in their lives, which the Baron proves as he tells the story of how he and little Sally (Sarah Polley) travel to the moon to meet the King whose head detaches from his body (Robin Williams), dance with Venus (Uma Thurman), and get swallowed by a whale. When the Turks really do invade, it's the Baron to the rescue...and who shows the town that it's not so bad to be a little bit extraordinary. 

I've loved this delightful bit of lunacy since it first started turning up on cable in the late 80's and early 90's. Neville in particular is marvelous as the Baron, whose stories may or may not be true, but they're sure as hell entertaining. If you love fantasy or the work of maverick director Terry Gilliam, this is one of his best movies and is highly recommended. 

Went back to YouTube for two rare shorts and TV show episodes. This Hello Kitty version of The Nutcracker is the only other cartoon besides The Nutcracker Prince I've ever seen adapt the original story "The Hard Nut."

Shirley Temple Storybook Theatre was an anthology of fairy tale, fantasy, and literary adaptations, narrated by and starring an older Temple in the early 60's. Their Christmas offering in their second and last season was Babes In Toyland. This one has Johnathan Winters as Barnaby, Temple as Floretta the Gypsy, and Joe Besser and Jerry Colonna as two of the three comic lackeys. This is probably the closest any screen version of this show has come to the original 1903 stage version, with the emphasis on the kids and comics rather than a pair of lovers.

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